The ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties filed a complaint in federal court yesterday against Customs and Border Protection claiming the agency has failed to respond to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking the release of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) report analyzing the agency’s use-of-force policies and practices.
The ACLU filed the FOIA on February 21, 2014, but says it has received no response—not even an acknowledgement of receipt of the FOIA.
“Custom and Border Protection’s failure to even respond to our FOIA request exemplifies the agency’s resistance to transparency and accountability,” said Mitra Ebadolahi, staff attorney for the San Diego ACLU’s Border Litigation Project. “The PERF report is an important document, one that details CBP’s problematic and potentially unlawful use-of-force policies and practices. The report should be made public in its entirety, immediately.”
The report was prompted by sixteen members of Congress asking for information about CBP’s practices following a series of high-profile deaths involving CBP personnel. Since 2010, at least 28 people have died in encounters with CBP officials. At least ten of these were U.S. citizens; six were inside Mexico when killed. Already in 2014, three people have died after encounters with Border Patrol agents, including a migrant in San Diego near Otay Mesa.
The Police Executive Research Forum is the same agency invited in via the Justice Department to do a study on SDPD polices and practices.
SDPD Loses $1 Million – Did They Check Their Other Pants’ Pockets?
Perhaps the services of the Justice Department contractors at PERF can be enlisted to help find the $1 million missing from a fund that directs assets seized by various Federal law enforcement agencies to the San Diego Police Department.
UT-San Diego reports the SDPD has asked the City Comptroller to do a complete review and audit of the seized asset fund.
Via the UT story:
Over the past five years, San Diego police received $6.4 million from the Justice and Treasury programs.
The U-T has been reporting on spending through such programs in jurisdictions across the region since April. The Watchdog received the San Diego police program records on May 14, and asked the next day about the $1 million inconsistency.
On Thursday, spokesman Lt. Kevin Mayer issued a brief statement saying the matter was being referred to financial investigators at City Hall.
The Ongoing Wildfire Fire Danger in San Diego
The “May Grey” has settled over San Diego this week as onshore breezes blanket the region with a marine layer and cooler temperatures. We’ve already had two major unseasonable heat spells. The state has recorded more than 1500 wildfires this year. A major drought looks to continue. So it’s a given in my mind that what we’ve just seen amounts to a preview of what’s to come in the months ahead.
There’s been a lot of back slapping over the past few days about the efforts of various fire fighting agencies in fighting the nine wildfires the plagued San Diego. We are indeed lucky (most of us, anyway) that the fires were contained with minimal amounts of damage to inhabited areas. And nobody doubts (except when they want to take their pensions away) the extraordinary efforts of state, local and federal firefighters.
But it might be that we were luckier than we realize, according to an article in the Christian Science Monitor. The article quotes Ponoma College professor Char Miller, saying, “San Diego County’s astonishing lack of professional firefighting units … means they are off-loading their responsibilities on other taxpayers across the state who pay to protect them and to protect them in landscapes that are fire-prone, fire-created,”
Here’s the lede from Monitor article:
The nine fires that swept through San Diego County last week exposed a contradiction in California’s preparations for what forecasters say could be a severe fire season.
The state is as ready as could reasonably be expected, given the challenges that lie ahead, analysts say, but the county where the fires hit is notably unprepared.
Fire department personnel, experts, and academics give state and federal agencies fairly high grades, saying they have learned many of the lessons from recent Western wildfires.
But San Diego stands out as “easily one of the least prepared [counties] in the entire country,” even though it is one of the most fire-prone regions of the state, says Richard Halsey, president of the California Chaparral Institute in Escondido.
The article has Halsey asserting that the priority for the county should be a regional fire department. County Supervisor Dianne Jacob argues in rebuttal, saying residents already pay a significant amount in wildfire-related fees, pointing out $285 million spent on new firefighting equipment, fire station upgrades, better communications, and other improvements.
Climate Change Denied in House Pentagon Budget
Local Congressmen Darrll Issa and Duncan Hunter joined the GOP majority in passing an amendment sponsored by Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) to prevent the Department of Defense from using funding to address the national security impacts of climate change.
We shouldn’t be surprised by this level of ignorance given that only eight out of the 278 Republicans in the House and Senate even accept the science of climate change.
Via Think Progress:
“You can’t change facts by ignoring them,” said Mike Breen, Executive Director of the Truman National Security Project, and leader of the clean energy campaign, Operation Free. “This is like trying to lose 20 pounds by smashing your bathroom scale.”
The full text of McKinley’s amendment reads:
None of the funds authorized to be appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used to implement the U.S. Global Change Research Program National Climate Assessment, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report, the United Nation’s Agenda 21 sustainable development plan, or the May 2013 Technical Update of the Social Cost of Carbon for Regulatory Impact Analysis Under Executive Order…
…The amendment forces the Defense Department to ignore the findings and recommendations of the National Climate Assessment and the IPCC’s latest climate assessment, specifically with regard to the national security impacts of climate change. It would also do the same for the Social Cost of Carbon, which provides a framework for rulemakers to take into account the societal, security, and economic costs associated with emitting more carbon dioxide.
Here’s just one example of what they’re voting to ignore–The Hampton Roads area of Virginia, home to the world’s largest naval base including the only U.S. shipyard that builds nuclear submarines, has seen its sea level rise more than one foot over the past eighty years–and the rate is rise is increasing. While the devastating impacts of sea level rise can’t be avoided, they can be lessened by taking action. House Republicans have voted to not do anything. This is some seriously stupid behavior.
Via the Associated Press:
The House defied the Pentagon on Thursday, overwhelmingly backing a $601 billion defense authorization bill that saves the Cold War-era U-2 spy plane, military bases and Navy cruisers despite warnings that it will undercut military readiness.
A White House veto threat — reiterated just hours before the vote — had little impact in an election year as lawmakers embraced the popular measure that includes a 1.8 percent pay raise for the troops and adds up to hundreds of thousands of jobs back home. The vote was 325-98 for the legislation, with 216 Republicans and 109 Democrats backing the bill.
Reps. Susan Davis, D-San Diego; Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine; Darrell Issa, R-Vista; Scott Peters, D-San Diego, and Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, voted for the measure.
Another Bad Day for Bonnie Dumanis
A San Diego judge today took possession of District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis’s office records concerning an investigation of Chula Vista city officials.
Judge Louis Hanoian plans to hold the records until he rules on whether to allow an aide to former Chula Vista Mayor Steve Padilla to try to undo his plea deal.
The aide—Jason Moore—wants the court to set aside his misdemeanor guilty plea, to contempt of court, from 2007. Moore insists he would not have entered the plea—in response to perjury charges filed by the district attorney—if he had known that Dumanis had earlier contacted his boss, then-Mayor Padilla. Padilla said Dumanis asked him to appoint her aide to a vacant Chula Vista City Council seat.
Unfortunately the judge’s ruling in the case isn’t scheduled until June 18th, two weeks past the date where voters will make a decision on the re-election of the District Attorney.
The Other Shoe Drops for Bill Horn
Following up on its coverage of the District 5 race for County Supervisor, Voice of San Diego published A Reader’s Guide to Bill Horn yesterday and it’s a testament to just how close to the bottom of the barrel voters are willing to go in local elections. This follows reports suggesting the incumbent County Supervisor may have improperly channeled real estate escrow funds through a religious non-profit over a period of years.
The story cites no fewer than ten examples of “misfires,” actions that somehow fade into history every time Horn is up for re-election. UT-San Diego’s endorsement of Horn even acknowledged his “history of ethical corner-cutting.”
He’s a slumlord, has used county monies to fund an anti-abortion group and paid a $13,000 fine in 2007 for violating campaign rules and not disclosing his income. The topper, as far I was concerned, was this:
In 2005, Horn asked his colleagues to increase their salaries by more than $28,000 annually after, only months earlier cutting child-support and other services. “It is true that we are elected, but nobody who got elected took a vow of poverty,” Horn said,according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. “We’re not Franciscans.”
The article concludes:
…many of the enemies Horn has earned over the years are opening up their wallets to defeat him.
A political action committee sponsored by SEIU Local 221 – Citizens Against Career Insider Politician Bill Horn For Supervisor 2014 – has already forked over some $250,000 to support Wood, and will likely spend more in the final stretch.
Horn thinks the union is wasting its money. He knows he has earned detractors over the years, but still feels he has a solid base of support that will carry him through.
On This Day: 1785 – Benjamin Franklin wrote in a letter that he had invented bifocals. 1934 – The Battle of Toledo began: a five-day running battle between roughly 6,000 strikers at the Electric Auto-Lite company of Toledo, Ohio, and 1,300 members of the Ohio National Guard. Two strikers died and more than 200 were injured. The union ultimately prevailed after a two-month fight for union recognition and higher pay. 1970 – The Grateful Dead played its first British concert at the Hollywood Rock Festival.
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